Actor Jussie Smollett is “angered and devastated” by reports that he paid 2 friends to stage his racist, homophobic attack in Chicago on Jan. 29.
The brothers were arrested Wednesday and released late Friday without charges.
Chicago police are “eager” to re-interview Smollett after questioning the brothers.
The 36-year-old ‘Empire’ star has retained 3 attorneys, Todd Pugh, Victor Henderson and high-powered defense attorney Michael Monico.
Pugh and Henderson released a statement late Saturday, denying claims that Smollett staged his own attack.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the statement read.
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
The lawyers identified one of the brothers as “Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video.”
They added: “It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”
The lawyers said Smollett would continue to cooperate with law enforcement.
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The NY Post’s Page Six reports Smollett was “adamant” that he wanted to appear on ABC’s Good Morning America immediately after the alleged assault.
“When Kim Kardashian was the victim of that horrific burglary in Paris, she went to ground, she closed down, she gave no interviews for months. You can see how shaken she was,” said a source familiar with GMA’s booking process.
“But Jussie was adamant that he wanted TV right away,” the source tells Page Six. “He raised his voice and said, ‘I need to do this right now. I’m a black gay man and people need to know what happened to me. I want to tell my story.’ He wanted media right away.”
During the GMA interview with Robin Roberts that aired on Thursday, Smollett insisted that his attackers were the 2 shadowy figures seen in surveillance video footage.
Apparently Smollett was unaware that police had already confirmed the identities of the 2 people in the video footage as his friends, Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, who flew to Nigeria on the same day as the hoax attack.
“The two suspects released yesterday were, in fact, on the scene and in the surveillance image,” police spokeswoman Jessica Rocco told The Post on Saturday.
During the interview with Roberts, Smollett seemed confident that the suspects would never be found – most likely because he knew the brothers were in Nigeria, safely out of reach of Chicago law enforcement.
But Smollett’s scheme quickly unraveled on Wednesday when the feds lured the brothers back to the U.S. and took them into custody at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
That same day, officers executed a search warrant on the brothers’ Lakeview home and confiscated bottles of bleach, a red hat, a cell phone, a black ski mask and a receipt for a rope.
After 2 days of interrogations – and threats of arrest for battery – the brothers admitted their role in staging the hoax attack on Smollett.
They said the actor paid them $3,500 in cash to fly to Nigeria after the attack, with a promise of an additional $500 upon their return.
According to CBS Chicago reporter Charlie De Mar, the brothers told police they and Smollett “rehearsed the attack days prior to it happening.”
Both brothers worked on the set of ‘Empire’ and they worked out with Smollett in the gym at his condominium.
@ABC7chicago previously reported that investigators believed Smollett orchestrated the attack because his character, Jamal Lyon, was being written out of Empire.
Chicago police assigned a dozen investigators to the case. They were assisted by FBI agents who focused their attention on the “anthrax” letter that was addressed to Smollett at Fox TV’s Chicago studio.
The powdery substance on the letter turned out to be crushed Acetaminophen (Tylenol).
During the raid on the Osundairo brothers’ home, police seized a book of stamps, a magazine and a handwriting sample.
If the letter is linked back to Smollett, he faces prison time for sending a threatening “anthrax” letter through the U.S. mail. The offense is a felony punishable by a minimum of 10 years behind bars.
According to published reports, the brothers were offered immunity from prosecution for their cooperation.